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We Eat Our Own
Cover of We Eat Our Own
We Eat Our Own
A Novel
An ambitious debut novel by an original young writer, We Eat Our Own blurs the lines between life and art with the story of a film director's unthinkable experiment in the Amazon.
When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn't hesitate: he flies to Colombia, no questions asked. He quickly realizes he's made a mistake. He's replacing another actor who quit after seeing the script—a script the director now claims doesn't exist. The movie is over budget. The production team seems headed for a breakdown. The air is so wet that the celluloid film disintegrates.

But what the actor doesn't realize is that the greatest threat might be the town itself, and the mysterious shadow economy that powers this remote jungle outpost. Entrepreneurial Americans, international drug traffickers, and M-19 guerillas are all fighting for Colombia's future—and the groups aren't as distinct as you might think. The actor thought this would be a role that would change his life. Now he's worried if he'll survive it.

Inspired by a true story from the annals of 1970s Italian horror film, and told in dazzlingly precise prose, We Eat Our Own is a resounding literary debut, a thrilling journey behind the scenes of a shocking film and a thoughtful commentary on violence and its repercussions.
An ambitious debut novel by an original young writer, We Eat Our Own blurs the lines between life and art with the story of a film director's unthinkable experiment in the Amazon.
When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn't hesitate: he flies to Colombia, no questions asked. He quickly realizes he's made a mistake. He's replacing another actor who quit after seeing the script—a script the director now claims doesn't exist. The movie is over budget. The production team seems headed for a breakdown. The air is so wet that the celluloid film disintegrates.

But what the actor doesn't realize is that the greatest threat might be the town itself, and the mysterious shadow economy that powers this remote jungle outpost. Entrepreneurial Americans, international drug traffickers, and M-19 guerillas are all fighting for Colombia's future—and the groups aren't as distinct as you might think. The actor thought this would be a role that would change his life. Now he's worried if he'll survive it.

Inspired by a true story from the annals of 1970s Italian horror film, and told in dazzlingly precise prose, We Eat Our Own is a resounding literary debut, a thrilling journey behind the scenes of a shocking film and a thoughtful commentary on violence and its repercussions.
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About the Author-
  • Kea Wilson received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where lives and works as a bookseller. We Eat Our Own is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 20, 2016
    In Wilson’s gripping, ambitious debut novel, a struggling actor flies to the rain forests of Colombia to star in Jungle Bloodbath, a grind house horror film directed by an eccentric Italian auteur. Roughly based on the infamously brutal production of Cannibal Holocaust, the novel tracks a wide cast of characters, including guerilla rebels, effects artists, and the director himself, as they slowly descend into barbarism. Interspersed with the alternating perspectives are transcripts from an Italian court, where the director stands accused of abuse, negligence, and murder, most of which seem to have occurred during the grueling shoot. In the name of supposed verisimilitude, the crew sets fire to an indigenous village and mutilates animals at whim, all without seeing a script. The drama builds palpably and haphazardly, drawing the invading crew and invaded population together until, in a moment of cathartic bloodshed, reality and fiction collide. Though Wilson novel’s reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, the story never flags thanks to the ferocious momentum of her prose. This is a vivid, scary novel. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2016
    This impressive debut novel chronicles the making of a shlock-schock movie in a South American jungle imbued with all-too-real late-20th-century horrors.One would have to be a pretty desperate actor to pursue a movie role like the one our nameless young protagonist, referred to throughout in the second person, snatches like an overripe, low-hanging mango sometime in 1979. Leaving his bewildered girlfriend behind in New York, this actor hops a plane to Colombia as a last-minute lead replacement in a jungle cannibalism chiller being slapped together by an enigmatic Italian filmmaker named Ugo Velluto, who's inflamed with the idea of making something more authentically scary than usual. And real life seems to be cooperating with Ugo's obsession: near an Amazonian shooting locale so remote that it doesn't have a phone line, there's a cadre of revolutionary guerillas who have entered a Faustian bargain with international drug traffickers. Some of this off-screen nastiness begins to gradually overlap with the graphic grossness being orchestrated by Ugo and his crew. Meanwhile, the actor struggles to find his way--and his character--in a project that's without a script and, seemingly, without clear direction beyond whatever comes to its increasingly erratic director's mind. Inspired by actual events, Wilson shows impressive command of a narrative that weaves back and forth and back again in both time and locale; much like the viewer of a pseudo-documentary horror movie (ever seen The Blair Witch Project?), you wonder throughout whether you should trust whatever it is you're told--and jumping to the end won't help at all. You shouldn't anyway, because Wilson's writing style is hypnotic, tightly wound, and harrowingly evocative of the story's stifling, bug-heavy atmosphere. Even the sunniest skies of this ill-starred shoot are thick with menace and portent. Keep telling yourself, "It's only a novel, it's only a novel" ... except an author's note at the end says it's inspired by actual events.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2016

    In 1979, struggling New York City actor Adrian White flies to Colombia on six hours' notice, thrilled to be offered a part in what his agent describes as an "Italian art film." Upon arrival on set near the Amazon, he meets the volatile director, Ugo Velluto, and the rest of the cast and crew. No one seems to have a definite script to give him and scenes he witnesses featuring indigenous people seem more horror than art. Throw in drug trafficking, guerrilla fighters, and harsh jungle conditions and lines begin to blur between fantasy and reality. Told from multiple characters' perspectives, interspersed with transcripts from a postfilming trial, this is a taut, entertaining thriller from first-time novelist and St. Louis bookseller Wilson. VERDICT At once an almost-anthropological treatise on the consequences of forced contact with indigenous rain forest peoples, an ode to the bloody exploitation horror films of the 1970s and 1980s (Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust), and a skillfully interwoven political thriller, this is an exciting debut that reads like a perfectly paced horror novel but offers an unusually close and multilayered examination of violence and art that should interest diverse audiences.--Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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We Eat Our Own
A Novel
Kea Wilson
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